January 22, 2009 suesbent
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This search for “Frenchness” is about beauty. But what is beauty? And what do I mean in this context? Is it the curled metal legs on rustic furniture? Is it the carelessly draped scarf across the shoulders? Red lipstick on pouty lips? Does it relate to the Fibonacci series of perfect ratio in design? An attitude of confidence? A pink powder puff?

Perhaps it is to do with inner beauty and living with authenticity? In an article Patricia Varley expresses a feeling of trepidation because she felt her outer image of beauty and confidence did not truly represent the fragile and unconfident girl she felt inside, as she prepared to stand before an audience of women to speak about beauty. I think she expresses the feelings many of us feel often in our lives.

In my search for this sense of style I see plenty of examples of what it is NOT: badly chosen and ill-fitting clothes; excess weight; crude behaviour; lack of manners; road-rage and shopping centre-rage and life-rage; loud-mouthed speech; bullying; ignorance; laziness; lack of care of the environment and community; lack of kindness…..

venus_de_miloBeauty is not about superficial and popular ideals. It is rooted firmly in history. It is not about trying to adopt some artificial notion about what is popular. For example, tattoos can be beautiful pieces of art and I can see some kind of strange beauty in a unique application on an individual once in a while. But on the whole I think they are ugly pieces of poor art scrawled over the sagging flesh of ignorant people desperately trying to be accepted into some abstract notion of “being radical”, “bad”, “cool”, or “out-there”. And on a perfect athletic human specimen it is like bad graffiti. I know I am out of sync with this thinking but so be it.

Beauty is about finding your authentic self and living your authentic life with assuredness and confidence. It is the possession of your own unique self, embracing it, celebrating it, and living your chosen activities knowing your Self, expressing it, and still gently allowing space for others in our community – even if they choose to put bad tattoos on saggy flesh. It is caring, kindness and courtesy. It is composure. It is awareness, celebration, joy, and fun. It is not false. It is Truth. It is essential and yet the mystery remains and captures the eye and the heart. It is not an exhibition but an appreciation.

Beauty, therefore, is not just a look; it is a way of living. It is a process. It unfolds gently like an opening bloom. It can take some of us many years to realise we don’t need to do what we are told by others. And still more time to have the confidence to live that lifestyle we have discovered to be our own preference. For me I know that surrounding myself with objects that meet my notion of beauty helps lift my mood; a bunch of roses in a vase, art that pleases me, music, the French language, a well-set dinner table offering a nourishing meal, cotton sheets, playing my piano (badly but playing anyway), painting my own art when I do feel inspired, doing yoga, cycling to work rather than driving my car.

My search for this elusive quality continues; not in earnest but with delight.


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Always within never &laqu&hellip  |  May 6, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    […] The final scene envelopes me and I find myself standing outside the apartment building beside Paloma and Kakuro “listening to the music drifting down from above”. Someone is playing the music of Satie on the piano; and knowing this music I hear it too. Paloma realizes that real beauty has the quality of “always within never” and vows to go on searching for these elusive moments. As I do in this blog. […]

    • 2. Zofia Moczulski  |  May 7, 2010 at 10:21 pm

      Hi Susan,

      An excellent review.

      I read many reviews of this book and none of them convinced me to read the book.
      You did.

      I am going to read it and send you my own review.

      It is so good to have this contact, Facebook.

      I miss you presence in our library, it is silence not filled.

      Best wishes,

  • 3. Every day in Tuscany &laq&hellip  |  June 8, 2010 at 11:14 am

    […] Pursuing a life of “beauty” in the harsh Australian environment and lifestyle is a challenge. But I must try harder. This is my real home and I must face the fact that life in France, for me, is not for this lifetime. My task is to focus, and bring into my days, the art, language, music, literature, good food, and beauty that I crave and miss. […]

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